When it comes to time away as a family, it’s easy to forget that us adults need a break too. We’re so focussed as parents on making sure that the little ones have a great time that we end up compromising on the bits we’d like. It’s practicality over luxury and I’d make that choice over and over with a toddler and a baby, but what if we didn’t have to? What if there was a place that met all of our family needs, went the extra mile for our little ones and had a touch of something special for us adults as well? Beyond Escapes, Devon got in touch with us to say they’d created just that with their baby friendly packages. So, without a backward glance, we hopped in the car and went to see if they truly delivered on that promise…
What Is Beyond Escapes, Devon?
Beyond Escapes, Devon is a boutique resort situated in between Paignton and Totnes in South Devon. Comprising of a mix of suites, apartments and lodges, Beyond Escapes Devon offer luxury self catered accommodation with a healthy splash of indulgence. There’s an onsite spa, a delicious restaurant and the location’s pretty hard to top with plenty of things to do in the surrounding area that’ll fit every travellers need. Fancy bringing your dog? There are ‘Furry Friendly’ lodges available. Bringing little ones? Book a ‘Baby Lodge’ and it’ll be packed full of baby and toddler equipment designed to make your life easier. Incredible.
We decided to put both Beyond Escapes and our sanity to the test and bring both the children and the dog; not a trip for the light hearted. With our car at maximum capacity and the dog wedged in between my feet, I’ve never been more grateful to know that most of our baby equipment was going to be there. Despite a slight hiccup with our sat-nav (let’s just say that the lane it tried to take us down was a recipe for disaster!), we got there in record time. Pulling through the main gates, Beyond Escapes certainly made a great first impression.
There’s a large stately home style building which houses some of the accommodation, easy to access parking and a welcoming reception building. The toddler and I headed in to be greeted warmly and have a quick outline of the site and how things worked.
The main facilities for Beyond Escapes are all situated in a large, modern building next to the entrance to the site. Completely accessible for both buggies and wheelchairs, there’s a welcoming reception area as you step through the door. From here you can either continue around the corner into the bar/restaurant area or head downstairs to the spa and gym. If you’re staying on site then passes to these facilities are included as part of your package – hurrah! In the spa you can opt for treatments, laze on the heated loungers or go for a dip in the vitality pool. If you fancy a workout, head to the gym for state of the art equipment; ideal for burning off the yummy food from the restaurant.
The restaurant is a pleasant size and offers a varied menu covering breakfast right through to evening meals. With views reaching all the way down to the sea, there’s a fully glass fronted wall which leads out to a large decked area, a perfect space for sitting and relaxing after a day of exploring. If you’re feeling a need to stay in, you can order pizza over the phone and collect it. Trust me, it’s delicious!
We stayed in a BE Lux Lodge that was both dog and baby friendly and had a private hot tub on the patio – BLISS. With a parking space right outside the door, we were no more than 200m from the main reception building that also housed the restaurant and spa. Bonus point one for Beyond Escapes; it’s a small site which makes it feel safe and far more personal. Cars are allowed on the site but it’s one per lodge, so there’s minimal traffic at any one time; great for little ones and pups. Access to the lodge was via a wristband ‘key’ which both Dave and I were given. Something that was rather exciting for the toddler; he loved the magic of unlocking the door using just our arms!
Inside, the lodge was perfect for our needs. Wood effect flooring (hilariously, the exact same flooring we have at home) throughout the downstairs meant there was no need to worry about traipsing through muddy footprints after a day of exploring. There was a small entranceway with a downstairs toilet, then a large open plan kitchen, dining and lounge space. The kitchen was brilliantly equipped with a modern feel that maximised the floor space and hid our piles of food and drink that we’d brought along. A full size American style fridge freezer was hugely appreciated – so often in self catering it’s a tiny fridge and with two little humans, it’s a constant juggle!
In the middle of the downstairs was a spiral staircase leading up to the first floor. Spiral stairs are one of those things that usually strike fear into me as a parent; they’re often impractical, slippery and a nightmare with little ones. Not this one; with stair-gates at both the top and the bottom and carpeted stair treads, there were no concerns about a runaway child heading down them at full speed.
Once upstairs, there were bedrooms on either side of the landing – to one side, a room with two single beds and an en-suite family bathroom complete with a bath and shower over it. On the other, a large double bedroom with ensuite shower and toilet. As we’d requested a family lodge, the cot was already placed in our room, but a quick reshuffle moved it into the twin bedroom as that was to house the toddler for the night. Both rooms had plenty of space and, if you were travelling without little ones, you could ask for the twins to be zipped together and made up as a double.
Back downstairs, a quick peak out of the patio doors revealed and enclosed patio area with seating, a table and the main attraction for us adults… the hot tub. We earmarked it for use that evening and excitedly set about unpacking!
So What Does Baby Friendly Mean?
As we’d requested a baby friendly lodge, we were met with a huge pile of bits and pieces designed to make our lives, as parents, that bit less stressful. I’ll admit to being a little bit dubious about what we would find in reality as often places make promises and we arrive to old or missing equipment. Definitely not the case here. Our baby friendly lodge included the following;
Kitchen: Microwave, steriliser, blender, toddler/baby cutlery, highchair and booster seat
Bedroom: Cot (complete with linens and blanket), bed guards, baby monitor, dark blinds and a nightlight
Bathroom: Bath toys, bath mat with temperature gauge, potty, toilet training seat, toilet step and change mat.
Other: cBBC on the tv, a ‘make your own den’ kit, enclosed patio area and stair gates.
After arriving around five o’clock, we checked in, unpacked and did the standard wander around the lodge and site before putting the children to bed for the night and settling in. With the toddler in the second bedroom, safely in the cot and the monitor on, it was as easy as being at home. Normally, we’d be worrying about whether we’d wake him or if we’d hear him but the lodge was spacious enough that he was tucked completely out the way. With that in mind, we had dinner (they really do have every utensil and cooking bit you may ever need) before making our way out to the hot tub. Beyond Escapes have thought of everything; there are plenty of towels to use and dressing gowns which mean you don’t have to make a chilly dash in and out! Outside, we popped on the bubbles, lay back to look at the stars and relaxed in absolute peace. I could actually cry thinking about how lovely it was!
Having sunk into bed and slept wonderfully (the hot tub was like having a giant bath pre-sleep time… incredible for deep relaxing!), we woke late and lazed around. Unfortunately, we’d all been feeling a little under the weather and in the end, we decided that Dave would take the toddler out for the day and I’d stay home with the baby. Whilst I was gutted to miss out on a day out, I could think of worse places to be ill! The site has plenty of things to do in the nearby area that will accommodate every budget, age and whim so with that the boys packed their day bags and headed off to River Dart Country Park.
By late afternoon, everyone was feeling far brighter so we decided to go for a walk around the site itself and the surrounding area. It really is a beautiful location, with plenty of fields and walkways to explore; perfect for the dog. We took a drink with us, did a half hour walk and decided to head back to the comfort of our lodge. With bedtime done, we ordered pizza (and chips!) before Dave checked out the hot tub again and I fell asleep at a record early time!
Feeling a little like I’d missed out the day before, we decided to end our stay with a trip to the onsite restaurant for breakfast. Breakfast opens at 8am and we needed to be out of the lodge by 10 so there was plenty of time to enjoy, but first, we had a den to build! When we arrived, the lovely ladies on reception told us that many people chose to make theirs under the staircase; thank goodness for insider knowledge, it worked perfectly! It took us far too long to pry the toddler out of there to head to the restaurant and there was no way he was removing his camo face paint, the restaurant would just have to cope… and they did! When we got there, we were advised that there was an offer to get two full english breakfasts for £12 which it would have been rude to ignore. Two delicious, large fry-ups later we were full to bursting and ready to hit the road and go home again. With a definite sadness, we finished loading the car, popped the keys back to reception and promised that we would return.
What Did We Really Think?
From the moment we walked into reception and were offered a ‘make your own den’ kit, I knew it was going to be a great stay. The size of the site and the friendliness of the staff made us feel instantly at ease and like a long lost friend rather than someone who’d just turned up. There was nothing that was too much trouble; for example, the second night we ordered pizza and chips to go and collect. Ten minutes later, our phone rang to say it was ready and would we like them to deliver it to us. Likewise, when we went to the restaurant for breakfast one morning, careful consideration was given to make sure we had a great time; would we like our bacon well cooked? would we like a spare plate for the toddler? A big greeting from reception as we walked out… little things that just pushed our enjoyment over the edge.
Both Dave and I said repeatedly how wonderful the break was, how the lodge was perfect for our needs and just the right balance of luxury and functionality. It felt like we could live in it without being on edge about the kids (or the dog) trashing it, yet it was full of comforts. The site itself is clean, well cared for and in a beautiful location. Waking up to look out over trees is only topped by sitting in the hot tub and staring up at the stars that aren’t affected by any light pollution.
The baby friendly element certainly helped us to settle right in and I’d be loathe now to visit somewhere that didn’t make such an effort. Not only did it help save some valuable space in the car, but it made us feel confident that our little ones were welcomed to the site with wide open arms. Likewise the dog although in an ideal world, I’d love to have seen a dog crate to contain her overnight or be able to shut her in the entrance way purely to keep her from jumping on the furniture the minute our back’s turned. Aside from that, there were only two small other things that I’d change; our hot tub was quite overlooked by the lodge around the corner from us purely due to the layout of the site. Whilst it didn’t bother us, I was very aware of them looking out of their windows and having us there! Secondly, the wristband door locking meant you couldn’t put a deadlock on the door at night. Again, it didn’t pose a real issue, it just felt quite strange to not ‘lock’ the front door once you’re inside!
Would We Pay To Go Back?
Yes. I’ve actually already had a quick look at prices for us to go again. It’s got just the right balance between tranquility and closeness to amenities, adult relaxation and child-friendliness and I’m always a sucker for a hot tub under the stars, especially when I know the kids are safely tucked up in bed. On the way back from our trip, we made a brief stop in Totnes to paint some pottery and capture some handprints on coasters at China Blue. Now, every time I look at the (incredibly garish) rocket money box my son painted, I get a flash back to the serenity of that weekend with my little family and I can’t wait to return.
Fancy seeing a brief tour of our lodge?